Moses had two sons-Gershom, the first-born, and Eliezer. There is not a lot of information about them, but Moses’ family line is still mentioned in the time of David. It is not easy being the child of an overachieving parent, especially someone who was used so mightily by God. So, to talk about the boys and their mother, we should frame this study with Moses.
Moses was about forty years old when he murdered the Egyptian and ran for his life. He was about eighty when God called him to the burning bush. Popular thought and movies have the boys as very young, like pre-teens. Exodus 4 certainly makes them sound young, but they could have been teenagers to thirty years old. It is obvious someone knew about the requirement to circumcise Hebrew boys and Moses just did not do it. Either way, there were two unhappy boys on the way to Egypt.
Another mystery – Exodus 18 has Jethro, the grandfather, bringing the boys and Zipporah to Moses. When and why did they leave? When-The best two places in my thinking were when they met Aaron and found out how bad it could be for them, or after the Red Sea, to save them from the harsh trip. Why-I want to be “light” on Moses with either explanation I just gave. It could have been a dark reason. The elders of the people did not like a leader having a non-Israelite wife with children. We saw that with Miriam and Moses’ second wife. The flip side of that dark thought is, why did Jethro bring them back? Was his community afraid of them and the miracles that happened in Egypt?
Events – They missed the first leg of the trip with the people testing God. They were around for everything else, including the complaining that got the thirty-eight years of going in circles. Moses, very probably, buried his sons and his grandchildren went into the Land. Since they were Levities they had a responsibility with the Tabernacle and not leading the people, like Joshua. Those two lived and saw a lot. Imagine having a father who glowed after his prayer time with God. So, if you read Levite in those first forty years, Gershom and Eliezer were there. (There was also a Gershon family in the Levites, they were not children of Moses.)
Names – Exodus 18: 3+4 explains the boys’ names. I know a good amount of thought is put into naming children, this is seen throughout the Bible and is still done today. With that said I am sure the names reflect praise and thanksgiving to God. Gershom was named because Moses was a foreigner in a foreign land. Eliezer was named because God helped Moses and saved him from Pharaoh’s sword.
If there is an “iah” or “el” in the front or back of a Hebrew name it is saying something about God. Those make good studies. Names got “recycled” and giving family names were/are a thing of honor. Be careful because it may look like they are the same people but check the Bible timeline, there may be hundreds of years in-between people with a similar description.
1 Chronicles 23:12-17 deal with heritage and 26:24-28 cover job assignments. Again, they should be included when possible in studies about people.
Gershom’s Family – Judges 18:30 is a dark side of this family that lasted for hundreds of years. When the tribe of Dan did not take their allotted possession of the land they went somewhere easier. Part of this includes stealing household gods and installing members of Jonathan, son of Gershom, as a priest. This lasted from the Book of Judges to the captivity caused by the Assyrians, which covers Samuel, Saul, David, and several of David’s grandsons.
Shubael appears to be a family name as 1 Chronicles 23 has one as “first” and then 1 Chronicles 26 has one working for King David as a treasurer. This second Shubael recruited his cousins from Eliezer’s branch to serve with him.
Eliezer’s Family – 1 Chronicles 23:17 states that the first was Rehabiah and Eliezer had no other sons. But that Rehabiah had many sons. 1 Chronicles 26:24 list four grandsons.
- Moses interceded with God to not destroy the sons of Jacob. God offered a new people to come through Moses; would Gershom and Eliezer had been the start?
- The bloodline of Moses may still exist today.
- The children of leaders do not always have a great life.